Nabil’s Conversion to White Tea

Most of the time we attained (Baha’u’llah’s presence) together with Jinab-i Nabil-i A`zam.  One day in the morning after preparing the tea with Jinab-i Nabil we attained (Baha’u’llah’s presence).  (Baha’u’llah) said, “Servant in attendance, bring tea for Nabil but bring nothing for Aqa Tahir.”  After that (Baha’u’llah) asked, “Do you drink tea in the morning or not?”  This servant did not give an answer.  Jinab-i Nabil said, “Yes.”

(Baha’u’llah) said, “How many cups?”

He said, “Three cups.”

(Baha’u’llah) said, “Do you drink white tea (chāy-yi safīd) or not?”

He said, “Javanese tea (chāy-yi nimsih, a black tea).”

(Baha’u’llah) said, “Do you drink it with bread or on an empty stomach?”

He said, “I always drink it with bread, but Aqa Tahir always drinks it with an empty stomach.”

(Baha’u’llah) said, “Europeans put Javanese tea in the mouth of a snake and kill the snake.”

Jinab-i Nabil said, “So it is an antidote!”

The Blessed Temple said, “The poisonousness of what you are saying is greater than the poisonousness of a snake!  Are you saying that what kills a snake is an antidote?”

He replied, “We are drinking white tea (from now on)!”

During the time this servant was with Jinab-i Nabil, we each drank nine glasses of tea – six glasses in the afternoon and three glasses in the morning.  From this blessed exposition, this servant has reduced the amount of tea and from that time till now I use white tea.

Tahir Malamiri, Khatirat-i Malamiri, 91.  On the idea that tea is a poison and can be used to kill animals, see ch. 4 of Alcott’s 1839 Tea and Coffee.  On the Bab’s injunction to drink white tea, see here and here.

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